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Bodour Al Qasimi: Books unite us in a multicultural global tapestry

Bodour Al Qasimi: Books unite us in a multicultural global tapestry

Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi discusses the impact of children’s literature and how it can ignite a passion for learning, culture, and reading during a panel discussion at TIBF 2024

Thessaloniki, Greece, May 18, 2024

Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) and Founder and CEO of Kalimat Group, underscored the undeniable impact of children’s literature in cultivating young readers’ awareness of global literary hubs. Speaking at a recent panel at the Thessaloniki International Book Fair (TIBF), Sheikha Bodour detailed how such literature can vividly depict cities, spark an enthusiasm for learning and cultural appreciation, and nurture a lasting affinity for reading. Al Qasimi emphasised the importance of introducing cultural themes to new generations in an accessible way, enhancing their future contributions to society.

In the panel discussion titled “Unlocking Worlds: Children’s Literature and World Book Capitals” Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi was joined by Giota Livani, Publisher of Livani Publishing Organization; Anna Routsi, World Book Capital Network Expert, Athens, and moderated by Greek journalist Lamprini Kouzeli, from the newspaper TO VIMA.

Inspiration behind the book “World Book Capital”

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi shared the inspiration behind her children’s book, “World Book Capital,” published in both Arabic and English by Kalimat Group. She emphasised how UNESCO’s World Book Capital Network has fostered a valuable exchange of experiences and expertise, after Sharjah proudly showcased its rich literary heritage on a global stage as World Book Capital in 2019.

Reflecting on Sharjah’s decade-long endeavour to attain the prestigious title, Al Qasimi acknowledged the collaborative dedication of various institutions and individuals that contributed to its achievement. By documenting this journey in her book it served as both a keepsake and a wellspring of motivation for aspiring leaders, and by revisiting key milestones in Sharjah’s evolution, she encapsulated the essence of its cultural narrative.

“Leading the International Publishers Association and Kalimat Group allowed me to witness the profound impact of books. The moment we were handed the proverbial baton from Athens is etched in our memory, signifying a profound responsibility towards this grand legacy. Even though the title was symbolic, we tirelessly continued to uphold our status as a World Book Capital beyond the official year, most notably through our community and library at Sharjah’s ‘House of Wisdom.’ This commitment was echoed when we then handed over the title to Kuala Lumpur,” Al Qasimi stated.

Books connect us to a global family

Referencing the translation of her book into 11 languages, Sheikha Bodour highlighted the essential role books play in bridging cultures and civilisations, saying, “Books make us feel part of a vast global family, and illustrations play a key role in engaging with young readers. The artist’s work, featuring children from various cultures and countries, promotes values of tolerance and love from a young age.”

“In today’s world, where online platforms compete for children’s attention, it is challenging to capture their focus. As writers, publishers, or illustrators, our task is to create engaging content that nurtures their love for reading,” Sheikha Bodour added.

Citing Einstein, Al Qasimi emphasised the importance of stories in children’s development: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales,” underscoring the vital role of imaginative stories in stimulating creativity and enhancing intelligence in young minds.

Sheikha Bodour concluded by stressing the power of translation in disseminating knowledge and literature, fostering dialogue and communication among people. She underscored her belief in translation as a bridge that connects cultures and broadens mutual understanding.

Bringing people and cultures closer through books

Giota Livani shared first impressions of Sheikha Bodour’s book during the session, saying, “When I first saw the ‘World Book Capital’ book at the Cairo International Book Fair, it sent chills down my spine. I was particularly captivated by the harmonious colours on the book cover, symbolising the earth that has seen countless generations, delivering a profound artistic message.”

Livani highlighted the importance of the World Book Capital network and the cooperation among various capitals, describing it as an effective means of bringing peoples and cultures closer through books. Concluding her remarks, Livani unveiled the Greek edition of Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi’s book, expressing her admiration and appreciation for the efforts in translating and publishing the book, which enriches global cultural dialogue.

Making books available to all segments of society

Sharing her experience and insights and highlighting the impact the title of World Book Capital had on Athens, Anna Routsi said, “There was a tremendous collective effort in Athens to obtain this prestigious title, and bookstore owners and cultural institutions worked together under the slogan ‘Books Everywhere’ to ensure books were accessible to all segments of society.”

Routsi spoke about the network of World Book Capitals, explaining that the goal was not just to celebrate the title for one year but to sustain the efforts and overcome the challenges associated with achieving it.


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